- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Human trafficking is a significant problem in Chicago and its neighboring suburbs, with thousands of women and girls forced into sex slavery each year, according to experts.

A community forum held in Geneva Thursday night was attended by Chicago FBI agents and representatives from organizations that try to help victims. Congressman Randy Hultgren, a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Task Force, was also at the meeting.

Hultgren introduced a resolution urging other countries to recognize the connection between prostitution and human trafficking earlier this year, the Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/1trIgNx ) reported.

“If we can save one life, one person, from this horrible tragedy, it’s worth it,” Hultgren told an audience of about 30 people. “It’s a local problem. It’s happening right here. The people responsible for these crimes are the pimps and johns and those making money from the slaves.”

On average, pimps make $67,000 per trafficked person annually, according to Alison Bell, the Aurora representative on the Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force.

Human trafficking is a $9.5 billion business, a profit margin that’s just behind the black market’s drugs and weapons trade. Nearly 30 million people have been forced into slavery worldwide.

Suburban massage parlors are now a hotspot for sex slavery, according to Bell. She encourages local residents to pay attention and report any signs of suspicious behavior.

“What we need are people who are looking at middle school bus stops, at the nail technicians and the massage parlors,” she said. “Look for clues, signs of abuse, evidence that someone isn’t able to leave.”

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Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com

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